In the Trenches: Reviewing the Jaguars, Previewing the Vikings

In the Trenches with former line coach Ryan Watson is a recurring piece looking at the Titans upcoming opponents each week, studying and reviewing the matchups along the offensive and defensive lines.

Lets start with the positives for the Titans. They are 2-0 and playing much better upon review than it feels watching them live. My doctor also says I should avoid too many more of these close games.

Still wondering when I’m going to stop using the “no preseason” thing as an excuse, but it’s hard when the offensive line gets called for multiple infractions on the same series of downs. Some things got better this week, while others did not.

2-0 is 2-0, so it’s better than taking a loss, however, it’s perfectly okay to still want more. The Titans are not in this for participation trophies, and I still believe they are set up for a Super Bowl run.

Offensive Line Review

Starting again near and dear to my heart with the offensive line. Generally, the line was firing off the ball and indecision does not seem to be the issue. Tiny technique miscues seem to be one of the things holding this offense back. Again, points have been scored, but the running game is supposed to be the offense’s bread and butter. It feels like it is second fiddle at this point. That may be fine given how teams will continue to attack this offense. What concerns me is the day when the running game is even less effective and Tannehill isn’t… well… TanneTHRILL (shoutout to Mike Herndon).

Here’s my notes on each member of the O-line:

  • RT Dennis Kelly was solid again, but I noticed something this week. He gave up multiple pressures and hits on Tannehill throughout this game. Last week, I mentioned stopping his feet at contact, and that was compounded this week by also not counteracting the defender’s second move, meaning a change of direction or spin move frequently caused Kelly to lose his responsibility and allow late pressure. Overall, I’ve been pleased with Kelly so far this season, however, this is a concerning pattern that I hope stops sooner rather than later.
  • RG Nate Davis had a better week. I continue to be happy to see his improvement in pass pro sets. He’s aggressive in run fits, but I’d like to see his first step get cleaned up. He can false step at times or lose leverage on a defender. This can sometimes allow defenders to disengage late, stopping runs for short gains when it appears there were yards left on the table.
  • C Ben Jones continues his solid season. He played well blocking at the point of attack and holding his ground against the pass rush.
  • LG Rodger Saffold was good in the run game. He made a bit of a gaff on a 3rd and 9, allowing the lone sack of the game. Saffold turned his body instead of sliding and keeping his shoulders square, giving rookie K’Lavon Chaisson an easy target to swim past. Ideally you’d like to see Saffold use his feet to close that gap while staying a bit more square to the line until impact with his head back.
  • LT Taylor Lewan was solid as well. The only negative is a few mistakes he’s made due to being overaggressive. My rule is always, “If you’re going to make a mistake, make it going 100 mph.” Lewan is going 100 mph, and the mistakes are few and far between. There did appear to be a few blocks that Lewan and/or Saffold were overaggressive and got split on a bad double team, which allowed two defenders to release in the hole for Henry to contend with.

Whiteboard Reviews:

Let’s start with the first play of the game…

Tight end leak out

  • Jonnu Smith lines up and then motions off the line, Corey Davis replaces on the line

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Comments

  1. Yeah, based upon your scouting report, this seems to be the worst offensive and defensive line we have played to date. Largely because of injuries, but nevertheless. Maybe one of the worst league-wide right now. I hate it for the Vikings. Gotta believe for the Titans, though, that this is really a put up or shut up moment. If we don’t run well against them and get pressure against them, something is definitely awry with our own units.

    Personally, I think the DL will start feasting this week since Beasley is making his debut!

    I feel like they could have feasted last week if we had just let Correa play some snaps. Oh well, perhaps there’s more to that story that I just don’t know.

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